Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Supercapitalism

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Supercapitalism

Article excerpt

GENERAL Supercapitalism, Robert Reich, icon Books, 2009, £8.99, ISBN: 978-184831046-9

Robert Reich is best known as Bill Clinton's labour secretary and was a member of Barack Obama's Transition Economic Advisory Board. In this book, he provides an excellent guide to some of the common economic ailments (widening income inequality, deteriorating environment and worsening job security) facing most major developed economies.

Reich's central proposition is that we are all, as workers and as citizens, losing out as competition between businesses intensifies on a global scale. The flipside to this is that we all gain - both as investors and, more prominently, as consumers - as choice, quality and competitive pricing arise out of the increasing intensity of the competition. Reich's belief is that big business is not fundamentally evil, or negligent, but is simply acting out of a survival instinct and that pressure from consumers and investors has forced business to continually seek out better deals. These better deals will always mean businesses look to cut costs, to cut the workforce and so on. Hence we have the apparent contradiction that we can both gain and lose at the same time.

Reich outlines how pressures are being placed on businesses and how businesses themselves are responding. The use of corporate and political lobbying, the increasing incidence of political donations and increasing recourse to legal means have all led to a reduction in the power of the citizen as businesses look for that extra edge to keep profits high and prices low.

The style of the book is provocative while remaining frank and honest. …

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